How I Became a Marketer During the Hardest Year of My Life
And you can too!
Before this year, I graduated college with a pointless degree and the hundred-thousand-dollar student loan debt that comes attached. I agonized through a handful of internships- most unpaid- to build up a resume that I hoped could land me ANY big girl job. I daydreamed about filling out a W2. I fantasized of the day my lenders would stop calling, threatening, and degrading me for forbearing my loans.
An Invite to the Popular Table
I landed a job at a successful software company as a copywriter in the marketing department. Plot twist: My degree is in screenwriting (You know, movie scripts… TV pilots?). In fact, I knew nothing about marketing. I thought the marketing department was like the popular kids’ table in the lunchroom- no one knows what the hell they do all day, but no one dares ask. In high school, I was the nerd wearing yellow sunglasses, braces, and a collection of [over sized, pit stained] free t-shirts from charity walks. My best friend wore a fanny pack- and not in the trendy, ironic way. Long story short, I didn’t frequent the popular table during lunch.
This company’s marketing department was made up of two fast-talking, powerful female bosses that created the department from the ground up. There I stood, unqualified and intimidated (pit-stains and all) — assuring them that I could write copy. I’d be damned if I didn’t keep this job during a time when every other inexperienced college grad was being laughed out of interviews.
The Consuming Art of Switching Hats
For the next year, I taught myself everything about blogging, posting to social media, creating campaigns specific to our Sales and Marketing Funnels. During lunch breaks, I called into marketing webinars and took notes on Google’s new SEO algorithms. I caught myself checking the company’s twitter account in the middle of the night to see if anyone had retweeted my latest case study. I even studied and passed a test to receive my first certificate in marketing.
I’m also a dance choreographer. During this high-strung year, I trekked to the dance studio every night of the week and coached 60+ high school girls until I puked. Why the puking? I was pregnant this whole time, too.
More Plot Twists
In film school they say to let your hero hit rock bottom, then dig her a grave- so let’s add to the level of absurdity: I’m a single mom. Over the past year I have survived pregnancy and birth, all on my own. Sure, my mom was there during sonograms to jump with excitement and assure me that the grainy ball sack on the monitor was a blessing. (She was also there to hold my hand for the hour-long epidural insertion because the anesthetist-in-training couldn’t find my spinal chord.) But for the bouts of morning sickness, late nights of acid reflux, and emotional swings- I was alone.
Let the Tears Fall
No, those aren’t Hilary Duff lyrics, they’re words to live by. When I wasn’t studying, coaching, or growing a fetus- I was crying on the phone to any friend that would listen. I expressed whatever came into my head — paranoia about custody battles over my son, anger from how underappreciated I felt at my jobs, and depression about my life situation. Mental purging was necessary to stay sane, and since I was pregnant, my stress-relieving options were limited. My friends cheered me on and stopped me when my thoughts derailed. Believe me- there were times when I wanted to pull a Jerry Maguire and walk out of the office with a bag of fish — or even (dare I say) blast my entire sob story on social media for the world to see.
Hard Work Pays Off
In 12 months, I walked away with 3 choreography awards from 3 different dance competitions. I lived through 9 months of pregnancy and gave birth to a beautiful, healthy, intelligent boy. And I was promoted to Content Marketing Coordinator at work. I have a damn good understanding of the marketing department; it’s actually a lot less like the popular table and a lot more like the nerdy table. We make poop-jokes and admit when we didn’t feel like showering that day. And we don’t wear pink on Wednesdays.
I left out that I have a patch of gray hair and a nervous tooth-grinding tick, but who’s counting? It was a really tough year; there are scars and I still have a lot to learn about marketing. But I’m lightyears ahead of where I was when I started and I intend to stay on the path to marketing-enlightenment. Only, I have some breathing room this year (both figuratively and literally.)
P.S. Free Brendan Dassey.